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Limerick University Recommend Refunds For Student Accommodation

Michael Lowry TD

The University of Limerick’s Governing Authority has recommended the refund of student in-house accommodation fees.

Tipperary Independent TD Mr Michael Lowry, has received confirmation that the Governing Authority of the University of Limerick (UL) has today recommended the issuing of refunds for all students availing of rented accommodation on the UL campus.

Deputy Lowry, who had first raised this matter of fairness with UL in late March 2020, in his representations to Limerick University, had stated that students and their parents, from his constituency had contacted him to state that the University is the only educational facility in Ireland that is not offering refunds to students relating to their on-campus accommodation.

Mr Lowry had stated back then publicly, that be believed that all students should be refunded, ‘as a matter of principle and good faith’.

Mr Lowry stated that would like to see privately owned student accommodation providers follow in similar vein; also coming to an arrangement with students, in light of the closure of third level institutes back in mid-March.

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Thurles Heritage In Grave Danger

“Our heritage is about our past, our present and our future and contributes greatly to the quality of life in our urban and rural communities. It is shared by all and is fully inclusive. Interaction with our heritage not only provides physical and mental health benefits, but contributes to overall well-being, while biodiversity is an essential component in the functioning of our environment.” – Signed Mr Joe MacGrath (Chief Executive, Tipperary County Council).

As we stated recently, (May 18th, 2020), work has now begun on a new local authority housing development, consisting of some 28 houses on the east side of Thurles in an area locally known as Mill Road. In the early 19th century the area was known as Manor Mill Road.

While this development is to be truly welcomed; this newest construction site is taking shape close to an area of heritage possibly the only one of its kind in Ireland, the Great Famine “Double Ditch”.

Entrance to ‘Double Ditch’ previously destroyed by Tipperary County Council employed contractors.
Photo G. Willoughby.

Lest you forget, first read all about the Great Famine “Double Ditch” HERE in a previous publication.

We previously wrote about this area, here on Thurles.Info in October of 2019; aware of Tipperary Co. Council’s proposals to develop this property close to this heritage site of national importance.

Tipperary Co. Council sadly, in their lack of knowledge, refer to this area as the Mill Road Walkway on current signage. It is not and never has been the Mill Road Walkway; its name is The Double Ditch and must now; with developers moving into place, be fully protected and returned to its original state.

We have been in contact (November 12th, 2019) with Ms Róisín O’Grady, (Heritage Officer with Tipperary County Council, Ballingarrane House, Cahir road, Clonmel, Co. Tipperary), whom we have met and remained in contact with via email up until late February 2020. But alas, the Covid-19 pandemic broke loose, bringing everything to a standstill.

Why should the town of Thurles worry regarding the further destruction of this historical asset?

This 174 year-old-old famine project and pedestrian Mass Path has had its Mill Road entrance previously destroyed by the very contractor employed by Tipperary Co. Council, involved in erecting fencing and a short concrete footpath fronting on this latest housing project. Back then Tipperary engineers conveniently turned a blind eye before signing off on this project. They have also turned a blind eye to the erection of posts and barbed wire on this public-right-of-way and have permitted the area to become a graveyard for supermarket trollies, toys and domestic furnishings.

Despite raising this issue in October 2019, no effort whatsoever has been made by Tipperary Co. Council or local public representatives to have this area cleaned up, except to remove their own embarrassing, dumped signage.

Yesterday, again I walk this neglected historic pathway, noting the collection of abandoned supermarket trolleys have now increased three-fold and the numerous, offensive, new poles / stakes holding up even more offencive barbed wire have been removed, possibly for firewood over last winter.

Our wish then and now is to highlight the historic importance of this area to Thurles business and tourism sectors and to prevent same from being destroyed by (A) further development; (B) those owning adjoining land and (C) those responsible for ‘Fly Tipping’.

Sadly the history of this area has been conveniently forgotten; lost in the mists of time to the memory of local residents and could in the near future be totally destroyed; lost to any future town tourism.

I defy any resident of the Irish state to identify any other such similar project undertaken during this sad period of our Irish history 1845 – 1849.

This area, back in April 1846 was the focus of development then, mainly by the business people of Liberty Square together with the clergy of Thurles; both Roman Catholic and Protestant, in an effort to put money into the pockets of starving paupers, thus ensuring that stomachs remained at least partially filled.

This event had followed the loss of the potato crop in the autumn of 1845, commemorated in St. Stephen’s Green in Dublin city centre recently, and referred to in the history books as “The Great Famine”. (Irish: an Gorta Mór).

Somehow, no one has realised that this year, 2020, is the 175 anniversary of the start of that tragic historic event.

We here at Thurles.Info have now begun the tedious process of digitizing all hand written documentation affecting Thurles and the Great Famine; same material which describes the real facts surrounding this period, which include details of the initial plans for this Double Ditch.

These same details are being currently formatted and are published HERE (See page 6 Re Double Ditch) on our sister website Hidden Tipperary.com, for the benefit of our large viewing public, both here at home and abroad.

A copy of this statement has been forwarded to the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, Ms Josepha Madigan; Chief Executive Tipperary Co. Council, Mr Joseph MacGrath; all Councillors elected to represent the Thurles Municipal District and Thurles politicians.

Funding must immediately be put in place to protect and restore this area, in association with the current housing development.

We will be happy to meet with anyone who requires further clarification on this area of national importance.

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Restart Grants For Small Businesses

Dáil Éireann

Direct financial government aid of between €2,000 minimum and €10,000, based on 2019 commercial rates invoice.

This scheme anounced and published on Friday,15th May, 2020, applies to small businesses with a turnover of under €5m and employing less than 50 employees.
The Scheme will open for applications this month, on Friday 22nd May, through Local Authorities, or in the case of Co. Tipperary, Tipperary County Council.

The Government on Friday agreed details of this new €250m ‘Restart Grant’, which will give direct aid to micro and small businesses to help them with the costs associated with re-opening and re-employing workers, following necessary COVID-19 closures.

As already stated this ‘Restart Grant’ aid will be available to businesses with a turnover of less than €5m and employing less than 50 people which either closed or was impacted by at least a 25% reduction in turnover, assessed to June 30th 2020.

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Lowry Welcomes Assistance For Tipperary Local Authority

Tipperary TD Michael Lowry

Independent Tipperary TD Mr Michael Lowry has welcomed the announcement, on Saturday last, that Government has given a commitment to all Local Authorities to ‘make up the shortfall in incomes from rates, to enable same to continue to provide full services to the public’.

While describing this as significant, he says that further assistance and supportive measures will be required based on losses incurred, that are specific to different regions of the country.

Deputy Michael Lowry has been contacted by the Chief Executives of the five Local Authorities in the South East, who have outlined their increasing concerns in relation to the economic impact of the Covid-19 crisis on a number of levels.

The five Local Authorities that form the Ireland South East region, submitted their major priorities to Government in March. The document outlined major priorities for Tipperary, Carlow, Kilkenny, Waterford and Wexford Authorities. However, due to the escalating and accumulating impact of the pandemic crisis, they have already reached the point where they felt it necessary to update their priorities in an revised submission last week.

Deputy Lowry is fully supportive of the need for assistance for these Local Authorities in view of the unprecedented and unexpected losses they are experiencing and the struggles they face in the coming months.

Tipperary County Council estimates that the Public Health Crisis could cost them in excess of €20 million, due to both increased costs and a reduction in income.

It is estimated that lost income from rates will likely be in the region of €14m, which will now be offset by Government funding, but there are other important lost sources of income such as revenue from parking fees. Local Authorities nationally are also experiencing increases in costs in certain areas as a result of the current crisis.

The South East Region as a whole has also outlined their grave concerns regarding job losses. It is estimated that around half of the jobs in the South East are in industries/sectors that are expected to be severely affected by the COVID-19 crisis. It is also clear that the ability of County Councils in the South East to financially support their recovery will be severely compromised.

Town centre support will be needed in the absence of festivals, cultural and sporting events. Given the South East’s economic vulnerability, this national issue will have a disproportionate impact on the region.

The South East Local Authorities state that, while the context has changed, the key elements of the previously identified priorities, as submitted to Government in March, remain central to minimising the short and medium term vulnerability of the South East region.

To this end, the Chief Executives of the 5 South East Local Authorities believe that the COVID-19 recovery phase for the South East will require the delivery of a number of key elements including Direct Funding Support for Local Authorities, more Agency Engagement and Direct Regional Stimulus.

Deputy Lowry says that the full list of requirements span a range of Government Departments and Agencies. “Local Authorities in the South East need the input and co-operation of each to prevent the undoing of progress already made and to ensure that the South East region does not slip even further than it did during the 2008 recession”.

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Taoiseach Supports Lowry Request Re. Payments For Beef Farmers

Following a call from Tipperary Independent TD Michael Lowry to bring forward direct payments to beef farmers in light of the current crisis; An Taoiseach Mr Leo Varadkar says that the Deputy’s request ‘makes sense’.

Deputy Lowry informed the weekly Dail sitting that concerns about the beef sector are mounting and cash flow remains a serious concern for farmers during the Covid-19 crisis.

Deputy Lowry suggested to An Taoiseach that EU direct payments, which are due to be made in October, should be brought forward to July to help alleviate at least some of that financial pressure.

“Prices have slumped. Cash-flow is now a major issue for beef farmers both in Tipperary and around the country. Could your Government commit to bringing forward direct payments to beef farmers from October to July this year?” asked Deputy Lowry.

In response, An Taoiseach stated, “They are EU funds. The farmers would be getting them anyway so it might make sense to bring it forward. It’s not money they wouldn’t be getting anyway, but it might at least help with cash-flow.”

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